High-level visits to Budapest, such as that of President of Austria Heinz Fischer, have strengthened the conviction of the Hungarian Government that Austria and Hungary are seeking joint solutions to the challenges faced by Europe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced on Wednesday at a business forum organised in Budapest by the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

DownloadMr. Szijjártó emphasised that while Austria is Hungary’s second most important trading partner and the fourth largest investor in Hungary, the close nature of Austro-Hungarian relations is also indicated by a number of other factors, including 40 twin settlement relationships between the two countries and over 1.1 million guest nights spent each year by Hungarian tourists in Austria.

Speaking about the cooperation between the two countries, at the opening of the business forum Austrian President Heinz Fischer characterised Austor-Hungarian relations saying that the sky is blue, but there are a few clouds.

DownloadMr. Fischer noted that the dominant sentiment in Hungary seems to be that of a confrontation between “us” and “them”, i.e. Brussels, the European Union. By contrast, when referring to “ourselves”, Austrians, along with the English, the French or the Belgians, tend to think of the whole of Europe and the European Union, he said. “I do not mean to say that all Austrians necessarily think that way, but those who speak in public speak up for common European interests and values”, Mr. Fischer added.

President of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry László Parragh admitted that Austro-Hungarian economic relations have not been entirely cloudless in recent years. The reason for this, he added, was that Hungary has realised where its interests lie and has taken a bolder stand in support of them, in the same way that Austrian goods are promoted in Austrian shops. He expressed his hopes that the Hungarian Government will continue its current economic policy, “naturally in observance of all EU regulations and in cooperation with its partners from the European Union”.